No urgent need to reform UDRP, says ICANN report

International

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has released a report on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) concluding that none of the policy and procedural issues identified as being problematic present an urgent need for revision. In addition, the report notes that the modification of many of these areas of concern would be likely to be contentious and go beyond ICANN's original mission.

The information gathered for the report was derived from public replies to a questionnaire posted by UDRP Task Force, an ICANN Domain Name Supporting Organization. Other information came from independent studies, such as the Max-Planck Institute UDRP Study, and third-party commentaries and analyses of the policy.

The report summarizes the issues identified by the Task Force, and breaks them down into the broad categories of procedure and policy. The procedural issues include whether the panel selection processes should be modified to address concerns about potential conflicts of interest. The policy questions raised include the following:

  • Should the policy require registrars to wait until appeal deadlines expire before taking action in response to court orders?

  • Should the policy be amended with respect to the protection of unregistered trademarks?

  • Should the policy provide guidance regarding the interpretation of the 'confusingly similar' criterion?

  • Should multiple complaints concerning the same registration and registrant be allowed?

The report points out that although it is within ICANN's scope to determine, implement and review policies establishing procedures for handling domain name disputes, it is not intended to become a legislative body that determines rules for deciding domain name disputes, especially where those rules are already addressed by local or national laws. However, the report lists the procedural questions that should be given priority in any future UDRP study, namely:

  • whether there should be improved, centralized, searchable access to administrative panel decisions;

  • whether complainant and respondent filings should be publicly available;

  • whether complainants and respondents should be allowed to amend and/or supplement their filings;

  • whether administrative panel decisions should be subject to internal appellate review; and

  • whether the procedure for implementing orders to transfer registrations should be amended.

Unfortunately, this means that the resolution of the problems identified by the surveys will not be immediately (or easily) addressed.

Timothy J Kelly and James M Gibson, Fitzpatrick Cella Harper & Scinto, New York

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